This afternoon, as was walking home from campus, I noticed a car that had its engine running and the windows were so tinted that it didn’t look like anyone was in it. I was concerned and confused, mostly out of curiosity, and gave the windshield a look that had to have very clearly outwardly expressed that. As I kept walking, I saw through the opened side window that I had alarmed the driver (who was indeed present) with my look and I felt bad, apologized, and told the man to carry on with his day. He told me he was just waiting for a friend and asked me how my day was and I said fine thanks, goodbye. Totally normal and unconcerning…
I kept walking, but he honked his horn and waved me back with much concern. Thinking I had dropped something, I came back and asked if I had. He simply held out his hand, introduced himself, and asked me if he could ask me something. I said sure, not at all expecting what came next. I can still picture his thin lips mouthing out the words because I thought at the time that I was imagining it… “Have you ever had a sugar daddy before?” he asked me. I said no and he asked me if I would like to and started to explain some basics to me but I cut him off and said him that I would definitely not like to. He asked me if I even knew anything about it and I told him that I had no desire to learn any more than what I did. He told me that he would be interested in paying my college tuition in return for some “company and favors.” I told him that I had to decline his offer and hopefully never see him again.
As I walked away as briskly yet calmly as I could manage, I first found it humorous. I didn’t know that Sugar Daddies were that common of a thing and it didn’t occur to me that I would ever be presented with that kind of offer, mostly because it is the farthest thing from what I would ever want and therefore, any sort of proposition is completely unwanted, unwarrented, and unconsensual. I couldn’t believe that it actually happened. I couldn’t believe he had the nerve to ask me that.
Then I started to feel dirty. Though I don’t support this kind of thinking, I fall victim to my thoughts turning this way… I started wondering what I was doing wrong. Were my jeans too tight? Do I walk in a way that suggests I may be open for payment in exchange for sexual favors? And off that, the fact that I had literally just been asked to exchange money for sexual favors. I have never been so blatentely sexualized by someone in my life. There was one thing on this man’s mind. When he looked at me, he saw walking sex. When we’d been talking previously, I wonder if he even heard anything I was saying.
I don’t know if I will ever be able to accurately describe this type of frustration to a man. I’m frustrated at myself for blaming myself. I’m frustrated that a man can make me doubt myself by sexualizing me. I’m frustrated that I work SO DAMN HARD all the time to improve myself and to educate myself and men still only see me as good for sex. I do not want payment for what my body can do for someone’s pleasure. I want payment for what I’ve been working hard for in college; for taking care of people who need me; for nursing; for what I have voluntarily chosen to dedicate my time to. I’m especially frustrated that most of this harassment is street harassment, because that means that I am walking to and from things. I am typically walking to or from school, my house, my job, grocery shopping… You know, things that I just need to do in order to LIVE and fully participate in society and get a good job. I strut to these things with power because I am ambitious, but these men just see my walk and think about sex.
My hands can auscultate heart sounds and will soon be able to inject IV fluid and intramuscular medications. My hands will be able to save lives. They can do a hell of a lot more than make your dick feel nice and tingly.
My legs get me to and from these important tasks in my life. They are more than just an entry way for a man.
My mouth is predominantly for speaking my mind and feeding myself so that I can live. The smallest percent of what I do with it relates at all whatsoever to male genitalia.
My head houses thoughts that I am so constantly and overwhelmingly consumed by that I forget that my body is what people see when they look at me.
My sex life is a part of me, but it is not me. It is not what I pride myself in and what I work my ass off to get good at.
And it is so fucking frustrating to just try to carry on with your life and be so frequently interrupted by being sexualized in such simple tasks. I shouldn’t have to so constantly and explicitly spell out the fact that I am a person who does person things and who doesn’t live for the sole purpose of pleasing men.
On a lesser note, I’m also frustrated that my guy friends always laugh when I tell them about my street harassment experiences. It’s not funny that I’ve been alone in my house all day because my roommates were in class and I was too afraid to leave and kept my doors locked. It’s not funny that I felt gross and threatened. My feelings are justified and not laughable, so fuck your laughing because that contributes to making me feel small.